Marcy Nicks Moody, Class of 2013, is one of 15 winners of the 2013 Burton Award for legal writing

May 9, 2013

Marcy Nicks Moody Marcy Nicks Moody, Class of 2013, is one of 15 winners of the 2013 Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing. Moody won for her 2012 Vanderbilt Law Review note, “WARNING: MAY CAUSE WARMING Potential Trade Challenges to Private Environmental Labels.”

She will receive her award on June 3 at a gala event at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Law schools may enter only one article per year in the prestigious Burton student writing competition. Moody’s note was selected for entry in the competition by Michael Vandenbergh, who co-directs the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program and directs theClimate Change Research Network at Vanderbilt University. “Nicky’s article does an excellent job of exploring the relationship between legal regulations governing international trade and voluntary systems that reward compliance with environmental standards,” Vandenbergh said.

Moody’s article examines a gap in international trade governance related to private environmental standards that seek to promote goods produced in an environmentally or socially responsible manner, such as MSC-certified seafood, Fairtrade coffee or Rainforest Alliance chocolate. “Demand has prompted firms, non-governmental organizations… and private foundations to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to support the creation of such systems,” Moody observes in her article. “But the increase in privately administered labels is not beneficial to all. In particular, these systems often disadvantage firms that lack the resources or technical expertise to achieve compliance with environmental standards, barring them from access to the labels.”

Some exporting countries have filed suit in the WTO opposing voluntary environmental certification systems, a trend Moody believes is likely to increase as private labeling becomes more widely used. In her article, Moody proposes a narrow framework in which the WTO could claim jurisdiction over a private environmental certification and labeling system for the purposes of addressing trade disputes. “Trade law is frankly one of the most influential areas of international law, and trade and environmental objectives often conflict,” Moody said.

Moody served on the editorial boards of both the Vanderbilt Law Review and the Environmental Law & Policy Annual Review during 2012-13. She earned her undergraduate degree at Brown University, holds a master’s degree in East Asian studies from Columbia University, and then was a Fulbright scholar in Shanghai, China, before entering law school. She will join Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York as an associate this fall.


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